Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scotty wins Westminster; crowd horrified at reminder that mutts exist

from The Morgan Dennis Dog Book by Morgan Dennis

A Scottish Terrier named Ch. Roundtown Mercedes Of Maryscot (aka Sadie) wins Best in Show at Westminster. PETA protestors sneak in and hold up signs saying "Mutts Rule" and Breeders Kill Shelter Dogs' Chances." I'm not a PETA fan, but they have a point. Not so much about the breeders, perhaps, but certainly about a) that mutts rule and b) the AKC does kill shelter dogs' chances - by refusing to crack down on puppy mills and high volume breeders, the AKC is helping create thousands of puppies who are prime candidates to end up in shelters.

Sadie's had a heck of a few months. She also won Best in Show at four clustered shows at the Kennel Club of Philadelphia in November, and at the Eukanuba National Championship Dog Show in California in December. Her breeder is Anstamm Scottish Terriers.

And some books featuring Scotties. And some other media too.

Picture books

First Dog Fala by Margare Suckley and Alice Dagliesh

Short stories
James Thurber's Jeannie stories, including Look Homeward Jeannie and In Defense Of Dogs, Even, After a Fashion, Jeannie. Which can be read online at Google Books.

Other Scotty stuff
Fala info at the National Park Service
Buy a Fala tile at the FDR Presidential Library and Museum
FDR Memorial with Fala
And, of course, the more recent Presidiential Scotties, Barney and Miss Beazley

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Trouble With Tuck (1981)

The Trouble With Tuck
Theodore Taylor
1981, Doubleday

And if there was anything better to hold than a pup, I don't know what it was. I put him up to my shoulder, against my neck, and his warm tongue swabbed the lobe of my ear. His new fur was like velvet. A love affair began that hour.

It's early 1950's Los Angeles, and 10-year-old Helen Ogden is a shy girl lacking self-confidence. One day, her parents present her with a fat gold Labrador Retriever puppy. Officially christened Friar Tuck Golden Boy, he's just Tuck to Helen. The pair become inseperable, and within a short time Tuck has saved her life twice, once from a pervert in the park and once from drowning in a pool.

But 1956 is different. Tuck, now over three, runs through a screen door and the family begins to wonder if his eyesight is okay. When the vet says Tuck is going blind, there are few alternatives. Helen, miserable at how her beloved dog is suffering from having his freedom curtailed, comes up with an idea nobody thinks will work - get her blind dog a guide dog of his own.

At first, the guide dog organization gently tells Helen that their dogs are far too valuable to be used with another dog. But then a unique situation occurs, and Helen has her chance to use the German Shepherd guide dog Lady Daisy. The only question left is how to train the obdurate, jealous Tuck to put up with a canine housemate and follow a guide.

The free-running Tuck's easy off-leash social life is an anachronism that somewhat confuses the big problem of the book. Today, a family dog in suburbia wouldn't be allowed to run loose, and the only problem involved with having a blind dog would be making sure nobody touched him unexpectedly. The scene where Tuck saves Helen from a pervert in a fog-bound park is scary as hell because of the realism of the scene. Where today a narrator would vague out into "And then everything seemed to slow down and I was thinking of bluebirds." Helen faithfully recounts every last detail of the attack.

Clearly written, with a consistent character voice and appealing heroine and dogs.

Friar Tuck Golden Boy - golden Lab with Dudley nose
Lady Daisy - German Shepherd

About the author
The North Carolina native wrote over 50 books. A high school dropout (math issue, my sympathies) he went on to become a press agent and screenwriter in Hollywood. His most famous book was the 1969 YA novel The Cay.

Other Books by the author
There are far too many to list; most relevant is the 1992 sequel, Tuck Triumphant.

Author website
LA Times obituary


Avon Camelot, 1981 Yearling

Also, an unknown edition cover

Monday, February 8, 2010

Adopt a Shelter Dog!

from Marguerite Henry's Album of Dogs, illustrations by Wesley Dennis

Adopt a shelter dog in 2010 and get free dog food from Pedigree! Details here.

Please choose a good shelter and use your head as well as your heart in choosing a pet. There are many homeless dogs out there, and many of them are not right for various homes. Owning a dog should be a joy, not a grim duty. Your priority is not to prevent a dog from being euthanized, it's to acquire a lifelong friend and companion. Do research on local shelters, because there are some bad ones out there that should not be encouraged to stay in operation. Find one that honestly attempts to weed out aggressive and unhealthy dogs, does a thorough but reasonable background check of hopeful adopters, does some vet work (at the very least, a rabies shot), and has a clean facility.

Pedigree, of course, is the dog food manufacturer who did those heartbreaking commercials a few years back featuring shelter dogs and a voice-over by David Duchovny.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

No reviews at the moment, but here's an old magazine cover that fits the snow-covered world outside so many windows tonight.

Note: the November 2009 post about The Good Luck Dog by Lilo Hess has been updated with photos.